In that interminable Guitar Music thread, I got into a short debate with Derek Robertson concerning his review of Peace's second album. Whilst I didn't necessarily disagree with his assessment, I took issue with the fact that he pulled lyrics from the songs as evidence of Peace's inherent inanity.
I don't think this is fair. Well written and insightful lyrics are beautiful, but as they can so often play second fiddle to the music, I don't think it's right to attack a band based largely on their lyrical abilities, and I believe that to do so is snobbish, and more than a little hypocritical.
A few years ago, Jarvis Cocker was the guest editor for the Observer Music Monthly. He touched upon this idea in his editorial, saying that lyrics are overrated as a mark of a song's quality. For evidence, he pointed out that Louie Louie by The Kingsmen features nonsensical, gibberish lyrics, yet it's a song that's adored by almost everyone who's heard it.
This week, Eric Harvey wrote a piece for Pitchfork about song lyrics: http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/688-text-messages-song-lyrics-as-musics-new-digital-battleground/
It's quite lengthy, but there's a few choice cuts in there:
"Pop songs... aren’t literature any more than screenplays are; they’re more accurately described in the words of pop sociologist Simon Frith, as "structures of sound," meant to be heard."
Defending his review, Derek Robertson argued that, were Peace's lyrics submitted as GCSE poetry, they'd get a D. So why should they be allowed to stand as lyrics?
I just think it's more complicated than that. Peace seem to be all about the groove, the choruses, and the communal live experience. The lyrics appear to be secondary to the importance of the feel of a song, so to attack them on this front is a bit like attacking Aphex Twin for his singing voice.
tl;dr - Where do you draw the line? At what point do lyrics become noteworthy, to the extent that they can be used to judge a song's worth?